Our clients, self-described as being in the autumn years of their lives, were relocating and downsizing away from an expansive rural property. Conscious of reflecting this period of their lives, they hoped the home might capture the qualities and atmosphere of autumnal light, colour and texture.
The primary design response was to position the house as a discreet volume within the centre of the site, allowing our clients to envelop the home in a new garden filled with a number of trees relocated from their previous property. A clear geometry was adopted for the plan and section, allowing continuous links to the garden, including the ability to read the full length and width of the site from within.
The design process began with a single wall gesture, a brickwork element that formed a long cup or recess. This textural wall gesture was arranged to define the boundaries of the home and of the individual rooms, with the recess of each providing a nesting place for seating, a study, kitchen etc. Always returning inwards, this repeating motif formed a thickness to the home’s exterior, providing a deepened reveal to every opening.
The home is set well back from the street, allowing for a large garden landscape to be the interface between the house and the public. The sense of mass and mineral of the house reflects the textural and tonal qualities of the surrounding countryside, along with the patination of age seen across many of the buildings of the town, dating back to 1850.
Each room is defined by its own lofted ceiling which creates a sense of inner spatial balance to the continuous framed views to the surrounding gardens. These crisp, white ceiling volumes pick up the fluctuating levels of natural daylight, providing the home with a very particularly sense of softness in the quality of the light. A tall skylight shaft that folds to frame a triangular aperture to the sky draws natural daylight into the heart of the house.
Recycled and texturally finished brick walls, pale low-carbon (high SCM content) concrete floors, galvanised steel roofing are all used to reflect the changing effects of weather and time within the evolving patina of their surface. This celebration of material entropy is then balanced with the precisely folded, ceiling voids that define and light each of the spaces in the home. The house has no AC or mechanical cooling, and instead relies upon orientation, air-flow, shading and thermal mass to mediate internal thermal comfort. An air-exchange heat pump warms the floor slab when required in the cooler months.
Our ambition for the house is for it to act as a reference point to the passing of time. The internal rooms act as vessels for the changes of light, becoming a canvas for the theatre of change occurring outside. The clarity of its external architectural form situates it as a fixed constant to the garden and to the occupiers who will change, and grow and age through the seasons and years.
‘Our new home is a private sanctuary. It enables and supports our enjoyment of a reflective and contemplative next life-phase within the context of a small rural community.
Our home far exceeds our “down-size”expectations. Rather, an all-pervasive sense of spaciousness exists. Throughout, beautiful natural materials and textural finishes play with ever changing light to create a colour palette that is, at once, both subtle and warm as the day and time suggests.
Every room offers connection with outdoors. In this way the garden creates a prized interplay of humanity with nature. On-going contemplation driven by changing seasons promises infinite intrigue.’